Thursday 30 June 2016

Here's my take on why people voted as they did

By the end of the referendum campaign you could pretty much tell how a person was going to vote by their accents and clothes. In elections you will always get some middle class types voting for a left party, or working class people going Tory, but here the class divide was as stark as possible.

Speaking only for myself, I stopped taking the Federasts seriously and started laughing at them on the Saturday before the vote. That was the day when the Brexit stall in central Edinburgh that I helped to man was blessed by the presence of a buffoonish individual  who walked up and began to scream that we were dishonouring the memory of Jo Cox, the MP who had been murdered two days previously. He went on to state, in full spittle-flecked lips and finger jabbing mode mode, that we were betraying the international working class by this failure to show solidarity with the oppressed of Europe, and so on and so forth.

When the tirade ended I pointed out the simple truth that the last time I had held a job in the UK that was full time, with holiday pay and the rest, it had ended in October 1981, to which he screamed: "That just proves how unemployable you are!"

Now, coming from a Tory that would be an expected response, but this bloke had just spent a good few minutes telling us all about working class solidarity, so to say that the response was off the wall is putting it mildly. Our crew were stunned, and I could see several mouths hanging open at the sheer inanity of the fool and his comments. As he opened his cake hole to start the next rant, I rather spoiled his intentions by bursting out in raucous laughter, raising my hand in the air and giving the international gesture of what a wanker, whereupon he stamped his foot like a petulant little girl and stormed off.

The real workers either voted for Brexit or didn't vote at all. The middle class voted Remain, and turned out in large numbers to do it, which is why Edinburgh showed such a large majority for the Federasts. 

This trend became clear very early on in the campaign when an electrician called at my house and told me that at the age of 50 he had never voted in his life, not even in the 2014 independence referendum, but that he had damn well registered for this one and intended to vote for Brexit.

By the end taxi drivers were double parking to dart over to our stall and grab leaflets to hand out to their passengers, whether they wanted them or not, bus drivers were sounding their horns as they drove past us, and building workers, complete with bags of tools and hard hats were arriving to state that they had just had enough of the EU and all its devilish ways.

They were joined by the poor with their pinched faces and uniform of grey tracksuits and cheap trainers, who often did not come to the stall, but who would take a leaflet. Then they would talk to us and explain to us in bewildered tones that it was wrong, quite wrong, that most of  the jobs had all vanished, and the ones that were left were being taken by Eastern Europeans.

Early in the campaign I would reply that giving management the option to pick and choose workers is just a very bad idea from our point of view, as it is far better if the bastards have as few options as possible. However, by the end there were so many plaintive people that the best our small group could do was just urge them to please turn out to vote. Sadly, few of them did, probably because after so many decades of political parties that just pander to globalised capitalism, the stuffing had just been knocked out of them, along with whatever enthusiasm they had once had for life.

So the Brexit voters tended to be people who had a direct relationship with capitalism, either because they worked in the private sector, or were prevented from working by it. It looks as if what united the skilled Bexiteeers was a hankering for more regulation of capitalism, so taxi drivers would complain about Uber taking work away from them, and electricians would moan about foreign competition. As for the unskilled, their longing was for the pre-1979 world of corporatism, with its big government, big business and big unions, all in the context of a nation state that built council houses, the NHS and ensured a decent life for all.

Facing us in the massed ranks of the bovine Remainer, who seemed to be drawn disproportionately from the ranks of government sinecure holders. It is impossible to over-generalise, but certainly the Federasts that I spoke to were by and large men and women who spoke with that cod-English accent that the Edinburgh middle class puts on, and as we saw at the start of this piece, they also tended to trot out the student union line about international proletarian solidarity, at least until they were put on the spot, when all their real lower middle class prejudices came out with a vengeance. Given that Scotland employs far too many people in pen-pushing non-jobs that are not productive of any finished good it is probably safe to bet that the Federasts ranks were chock full of timeservers and jobsworths who may have been worried that if the EU gravy train came off the rails, then their local government numbers would be next in line for scrutiny.

Of course, and needless to say, being middle class and parasitical on the economy, they had to cover their self interest with sanctimonious, self-righteous waffle, to try and pretend that they were not actually just trying to keep their own seats of the gravy train, but that it what it amounted to in the end.

So, the referendum was fought between people who had real jobs, or no jobs at all, and people who didn't, but who were doing very nicely, thank you, out of the labours and miseries of others.


  1. A well observed and convincing analysis with which I would agree from a southern perspective. As a republican I would not be bothered by a split off from the UK by Scotland, but I doubt whether it would benefit the working class in Scotland. No doubt the SNP appeared to have stolen many of the progressive policies of the LP in order to secure their recent victories. Do you, Ken believe the SNP will have the nerve to go for a referendum, and if they do, will their likely defeat? allow the development of a socialist alternative North of the border, in your opinion, cheers, keep up the good work.

  2. No, in a word, they won't. The Eu has already said that Scotland cannot leave the UK and then remain within the EU as the rest of the country leaves. Spain, France and Belgium have announced that they oppose the admission of Scotland, even if it becomes independent and applies to join as a new member. The SNP wants to keep the pound, which would not be allowed even if all the other issues could be settled. The SNP will howl, but well over a third of their voters supported Brexit, so forget the SNP. They cannot influence events one way or the other.


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